Wednesday, August 20, 2008

How Will You Be Remembered?

It has been a remarkable few days. Since leaving the Celebrate Recovery Summit at Saddleback I’ve had much to think about and process. One of the things that I appreciated about the CR version of recovery is that it is biblical and broad based. By broad based I mean that recovery is defined as a needful experience for anyone with a hurt, habit or hang-up from which he or she would like to recover. If you’re a chronic worrier or a drug addict, CR can be used of God to help you be restored to sane and fruitful living.

Gathering day after day with over 3,000 CR leaders who are already personally working the program and are being delivered from dozens of types of brokenness I was inspired and encouraged that anyone can have significant life change. Regardless of the screwed up beginning or middle years of your life you can finish well.

So when I came upon the obituary linked here my heart was deeply saddened. Here’s a brief clip from the obit--

Dolores Aguilar, born in 1929 in New Mexico, left us on August 7, 2008…Dolores had no hobbies, made no contribution to society and rarely shared a kind word or deed in her life. I speak for the majority of her family when I say her presence will not be missed by many, very few tears will be shed and there will be no lamenting over her passing…

There will be no service, no prayers and no closure for the family she spent a lifetime tearing apart. We cannot come together in the end to see to it that her grandchildren and great-grandchildren can say their goodbyes. So I say here for all of us, GOOD BYE, MOM.

Dolores was preceded in death by her husband and two children. She is survived by 7 children, 19 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren. Obviously it’s too late for Dolores but it is possible for an awful cycle of family living to be broken and new and full life to happen for all of these survivors.

My reflection today stirs me to pray and serve God and people so that life wounds are healed, forgiveness is prevalent, grace flows lavishly and life is marked by deep joy. Christ makes all of this possible. As long as I have breath I want to work for the deliverance/recovery of one more.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Giving & Receiving Love

Wednesday morning I had the privilege of hearing John Townsend speak. A Christian psychiatrist and prolific author, I’ve heard and read his material often through the years and have always been helped. Today was one of the most helpful.

Having just written “Loving People” Townsend shared a few insights on the subject that I list below for your reflection.

Five Aspects of Love
Love is the “fuel for life.” Love is “seeking and doing what is best for someone.”
In order to love and be loved well--
1. You Have to Need
People who can experience love are those who can/do experience a need. For example, those with abandonment issues are hurt people who don’t want to be hurt anymore. Therefore they do their best NOT to need people and consequently stop experiencing love.

2. You Have to Ask
The Apostle James taught us, “You have not because you ask not.” Sometimes we need to be loved with encouragement, support, friendship or some kind of help. Tell others what you need and ask for their help. In so doing they will be loving you.

3. You Have to Receive
One of the hardest things for us is to receive love. It makes us feel needy and weak. We would rather be in the position of giving love than receiving it. However, we must receive love in order to give it. We literally push away love with De-Valuing statements. Someone affirms or speaks loving words to us and we dismiss it with a comment like, “Oh, you really don’t know me.” Just receive the love.

4. You Have to Give Thanks
Say thank you to those who love you well. Let them know that they have touched you.

5. You Have to Use It
Digest the love that others (and God) are giving you and grow. Get energy from it, get more creativity, get connected and by all means get to serving others with it. We’ve been created to receive love and then pass it on to others. The flow of love through us is essential.

Think on these things.

From Willow to Saddleback

Over the past 20 years the ministries of Willow Creek in Chicago and Saddleback in Southern California have been a huge and powerful influence upon my life. I’ve learned much from their pastors and from several of their staff and of course from the tremendous spiritual growth materials both churches have produced.

Last week I participated in Willow’s annual Leadership Summit. I’m still reflecting and better engaging my heart with God from the presentations. I’ve been journaling and having heart-to-heart conversations with trusted friends in the “journey”. It has all served to be a “touch” from God to deep places within.

This week I’m attending for the first time the Celebrate Recovery Summit at Saddleback. Two summits in two weeks!

CR is a ministry designed for the biblical practice of recovery from habits, hang-ups and hurts. We’ve recently launched a CR group at Meadowbrook and I’m hopeful that this will be a ministry that helps many in far reaching ways for years to come.

Though my habit or addiction has not been alcohol or drugs I have been “crazy” through the years with workaholism, perfectionism and a form of grandiosity which believes that I must accomplish great things and be a great person in order for my life to count. These things are but symptoms of my brokenness that I’m powerless to manage. CR and the practice of 12 Steps have been the means of my turning my life over to Christ for His work of healing and restoration and renewal.

I’m grateful for a church family like Meadowbrook that both allows me the time to do personal life work and is a safe place for my own transformation and discipleship.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

It Happened Again

In 1989 I was ambushed by God. I attended a leadership conference at Willow Creek Church in Chicago and there God stirred and prompted my heart to leave my life in the Mid-South and my extended family and friends and move to the Seattle area to start a new church that would eventually become Meadowbrook. I can take you to the very spot where I made that life-altering decision. It feels like holy ground to me.

Every year since then I have attended a leadership conference at Willow or at a satellite location and every year God has met with me in a special way and spoken into my life in a powerful and timely fashion.

This year I registered once again and I’m attending a satellite in Redmond. However, my work load and schedule of late has me feeling a bit pressured and I was tempted to skip the conference this year and spend the two days getting more work done.

Thursday morning I attended the first session and within ten minutes of hearing Bill Hybels make a presentation I knew that God had planned to once again meet with me. That sense of “divine appointment” is profound beyond my capacity to express with words. Six billion people on the planet with millions of scenarios and crises that require the attention and power of God and yet I’m keenly aware that God is present with me in my seat in an auditorium. As I listen to a speaker or singer it is as if God takes their words and brings them to areas of my heart that need to take it in. Vision and mental images come up on the screen of my mind. I’m freshly reminded that the Christian life is about relationship with a living God. It’s not ritual or religion or formulas with God but dynamic, authentic, living relationship. I am again grateful that I get to know the God of the ages, the God of creation, the God of salvation and redemption.

I’m sure I’ll share more reflections later.